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Welcome to utopian 'Cuckoonebulopolis'

Surendran Nair, the Baroda-based painter, regaled Delhi art-lovers with his latest display after a seven-year sabbatical.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 22:13 IST

One of his latest paintings titled "Tragedy of the Twelfth Man" has an uncanny symbolic resemblance to some of the recent events in the Indian cricket. Prod him on this, and Surendran Nair just smiles, unwilling to take any names or help you interpret.

Unlike many other members of his fraternity, he is uncommunicative and refuses to be drawn out. Painter Surendran Nair strongly believes his work and not him should do all the talking.

"Whatever I have to say, I do it through my paintings. They are a medium for me to express my happiness, joy or anguish at the various happenings around me. I don't like saying anything apart from that. It's for the audience to decipher," says the 50-year-old artist.

Nair who has done several solo and group shows nationally and internationally, prefers to use a mixture of traditional and contemporary imagery, including cinema posters and political graffiti in his work.

He's widely known to create a vocabulary of images that are fed from a variety of sources like history, mythology, politics, religion offering him rich parables of reference for his paintings.

"The nature of my work is complex and reference-oriented. Myth and legend, folklore and classical literature, rituals and traditional practices, history and politics coupled with my own experiences become the roadmap of enquiry to my works. I address different things at one time," he says.

The latest display of this Baroda-based artist, interestingly titled -- The Bad Behaviour of Singularities -- comes after a hiatus of seven long years. This exhibition is one of the chapters within an ongoing progression of works called 'Cuckoonebulopolis'.

'Cuckoonebulopolis', he explains is another of those references that he has used "to contextualise his work". In this exhibition Nair uses figures -- half human and half bird - to depict the "various happenings around us".

"Cuckoonebulopolis is an Aristrophanian utopia, an avian abode between heaven and earth built by the birds of Athens, to escape from the difficulties and treacheries of life in general. Even I don't know what exactly it means. I read about it somewhere and I like the idea and decided to use this utopia as a backdrop for my exhibition," he says non-chalantly.

Nair believes the delight of being a visual artist is that it offers one the terrain of subversion as a module through which one can present his/her ideas.

Nair asserts that his formative years in Kerala influenced his thinking and resultantly his works in years to come.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 13:51 IST